The gay rights movement seems to be generating unprecedented media attention. The courts are busy hearing petitions against a law framed in the 19th century, which proscribes homosexuality and the punishments for anyone caught in the act includes a maximum of 10 years in jail. The newspapers are writing stories about a gay couple from Israel, who have become parents through a surrogate mother who bore their child in Mumbai and a popular movie, which brings the gay question out of the closet is running to packed theatres across the country.
All this attention to an issue, which is still hardly a matter of discussion even amongst friends (forget family) is quite amazing. Gay rights activists are no longer considered pariahs and they are often seen in the media holding forth on issues that till now have been buried deep underground.
Two weeks ago I happend to watch a movie called ‘Fashion’.The movie caricatured the life of the fashion fraternity, the models, the fashion designers, the fashion media and the powerful people behind the business of fashion. It had a couple of gay characters, and I felt, the movie by building on the sterotypes of the gay in the fashion industry had done a great disservice to them.
Yesterday evening I watched ‘Dostana’, which had two leading bollywood stars (Abhishek Bacchhan abnd John Abraham) pretending to be gay to share an apartment with the gorgeous leading lady (Priyanka Chopra) and than falling in love with her. The theatre was full and had families, couples and friends all in splits, because of the complications this arrangement throws up. No one seemed to care much about the nature of the relationships being portrayed on the screen, the leading lady was ‘cool’ about this arrangement and even felt safe in the company of her gay flatmates. While the mother of one of the characters had some difficulty in accepting a man for her ‘bahu’, she eventually does come around to seeing and accepting things as they were. The movie has really succeeded in getting the ‘Gay’ question out of the closet in a most inoffensive and if I may add an entertaining manner.
And than there are Yontan and Omer Gher an Israeli gay couple, who have been in the news for becoming parents of a child delivered by a surrogate mother in Mumbai. Their images with the infant made to the front page of newspapers here. They images convey their joy at being parents never mind if the mom appears to be missing in the happy family picture.
WHO removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1992. Many countries now allow homosexual marriages, civil unions, parenting rights and equal access to healthcare. This is inspite of the Roman Catholic Church’s position, which considers homosexuality an ‘intrinsic moral evil’. In India we still seem to be living in dark ages, with our stereotypes of effete, feminine looking gay men with strange mannerisms and come ons.
The popular movies, press coverage and the court cases seems to be a great way forward towards accepting alternate sexuality for what it is, a different orientation. Sanchita Sharma in HT writes that it is something ‘one is born with and not really a behaviour choice’. To be subject to social ridicule, discrimination and life long stigma for something one is born with seems grossly unfair.
Hopefully all this and more would lead to change in our attitudes towards gays and people with alternate sexuality. Politicians and the Priests be damned.
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